Our country is a land of many gods who are widely worshipped and celebrated in the whole of the country. These gods have taken various forms over the course of humanity. These forms are as important as the gods themselves and hold a special place in the hearts of the people who worship them.
Most of Hinduism is based on the ancient texts of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. All these widely mention the Hindu trinity, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva as the most important gods. It is also believed that every other god is a holy incarnation of either of these three forms.
In Hinduism, certain symbols hold a very important place. Almost each god is associated with a symbol each, which is considered to be very sacred. The symbol of Lord Shiva may be very famous and well known to be a Shivalinga. Did you know that Lord Vishnu too has a symbol dedicated to him? It is called the Shaligram.
What Is A Shaligram?
Shaligram is a sacred black stone worshipped extensively by the Vaishnavas. They believe that Lord Vishnu himself resides in it. It is exclusively found in the Gandaki river in Nepal.
This place is said to be the residing place of the Lord millions of years ago. The Puranas mention in detail about the importance of a shaligram and why it is worshipped.
The shaligram found in this region is observed to have many marks on it like the Narayana Chakra, which is very sacred. It is also an interesting fact to note that though this stone is found in different parts of the world, it is not even close to the ones which are exclusive to this region.
The Legend Of The Shaligram:
The sacred stone of shaligram is known to be the residence of Lord Vishnu himself and there is an interesting story behind it.
There was once a fierce battle between Lord Shiva and the Demon Shankhchura. But there was only one way of killing Shankhchura and that was by breaking his wife's chastity.
In order to defeat Lord Shiva, Shankhchura took the form of Lord Shiva and came to Goddess Parvathi. But Goddess Parvathi was instantly aware of the fact that it is not her husband but Shakhchura in disguise. Meanwhile, Lord Krishna, who is said to be the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was watching all this from far. He decided to play the same trick on Shankchura's wife, Vrinda.
Therefore, Lord Vishnu took the form of Shankchura and approached his wife. She, not aware of the disguise, went on an outing with him. This was considered a great sin in the ancient times.
When Vrinda became aware of the game being played on her, she became furious and cursed Lord Vishnu to take the shape of a useless black stone. Lord Vishnu instantly turned into a black stone, which came to be known as Shaligram.
Vrinda later felt guilty of the curse that she had inflicted upon the lord and wanted it to be taken back. But as that was impossible, God ordered the worshippers to worship the black stone as a residence of Lord Vishnu himself.
Importance Of Worshipping The Shaligram:
According to the scriptures, worshipping the shaligram is known to give many benefits. The shaligram is to be kept in a copper plate along with other decorative items like flowers, fruits etc.
The puja should be done in the morning and evening. The shaligram should always be worshipped along with tulsi. The house which worships the shaligram daily is said to be blessed with health and wealth.
The water which is used to bathe the shaligram too is considered to be holy. This water can be used to cleanse and purify the house. This also removes the negative energy in the house and the evil eye. A dead person is given a sip of this water in order for him to achieve the Vaikunta Dham.
Worshipping the shaligram brings peace and happiness in the house. It should be done by offering tulsi leaves to the shaligram along with incense sticks, aarti, dhyan and prashad.
The shaligram should be bathed by gangajal and panchamrit every morning along with reciting "Om Namo Bhagvate Vasudevaya" or any other mantra, singing the praises of Lord Vishnu.